Police + Invisible Son meaning of song

The video makes it clear this is about England in the 1990 era. But I only heard the lyrics and to me this was a song about the disappeared in Argentina and in Pinochet’s Chile - “I don’t want to be an invisible son”, “a statistic in a government chart” “they would kill me for a cigarette but I don’t want to die just yet.”
Music and poetry has of course a personal tag, more importantly than the literal lyrics.

First, the title and the lyrics are “Invisible Sun”. Second, it’s a song from 1981 so couldn’t be about the 1990s. I always heard it was about the Troubles in Northern-Ireland.

Here’s the song on songfacts:


As noted on Wikipedia, Sting says that he was inspired by the Troubles when he wrote the song. Drummer Stuart Copeland has indicated that it has a somewhat broader meaning to him:

Interestingly, in 1987 Sting wrote “They Dance Alone” which is about Pinochet’s Chile and does include the words “Invisible Sons”.

The video for “Invisible Sun” shows imagery from Belfast, not England.

Ah, that could explain the confusion in the OP. I know “They Dance Alone” but didn’t remember that it contains the lyric “Invisible Sons”. @Imogen , did you maybe conflate the two songs? “They Dance Alone” definitely is about the mothers of “lost” people dancing in protest against the Pinochet regime. I’m not a big fan of Sting’s solo work (my favorite album still is his second solo, the live “Bring On The Night”), but this is a very moving song.

  • To boost their credibility with the punk audience, The Police claimed that Roxanne and Can’t Stand Losing You were banned by the BBC. They weren’t, but Invisible Sun was; songs about prostitutes and suicide didn’t rankle the network, but those about “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland did. Paul McCartney’s Give Ireland Back To The Irish met the same fate.

Interesting about the banning, I didn’t know about that. I think we mostly try to ban books over here. I’m also surprised that Invisible Sun wasn’t released as a single in the US. I seem to remember hearing it a lot, but maybe it was just because of MTV.

I don’t know if anyone’s done it yet so I’m going to flag for a move to Cafe Society.

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Interesting, no, I don’t think I did conflate the two songs but only part-heard the words of Invisible Son. There was another song about South America only once heard “The Electrician”. Very moving however you interpret the lyrics.


Thanks for replying, yes the video does as I discovered when I saw it, but there is a broader meaning in interpreting songs which may be very personal and cannot be discounted because that is why music touches us.